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Wood: Canadian suppliers seek to play the ‘Q’ (as in quality) card

July 3/10: Volume 32, Issue 2

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.18.14 PMIn some circles, Canada is renown for developing some of the greatest hockey players—and teams—in the history of the sport. Well, the same could be said for the nation’s formidable forestry sector, which has produced some of the most prolific producers of hardwood flooring.

But it’s not just high volumes that some of these well-respected companies are cranking out. Many industry observers would argue that they manufacture some of the industry’s highest quality hardwood flooring products.

Take Rochester, N.Y.-based Installers Warehouse as an example. This wholesale flooring distributor ranks the Wickham line high on its portfolio of hardwood flooring products. Craig Dupra, president, has toured the Wickham plant on multiple occasions and is always impressed with what he sees. “Wickham has a unique business model in that it produces an enormous amount of product, but the company doesn’t apply a color or a finish until the product has been ordered by the retailer or distributor. I don’t know how it manages the logistics of it, but the company is very good at making a particular product for a particular customer and still gets it to my customer in 10-15 business days from the time the order is placed. This gives retailers an enormous amount of flexibility in terms of how the particular floor can be made regarding width, species, grade, color and sheen.”

Perhaps it’s the signature, tight-grained maple species native to the various Canadian forests where lumber used for flooring is predominantly harvested, or maybe it’s just an ingrained mindset embraced by the major wood manufacturers operating here, but there’s definitely something to be said about the quality of the upper-end hardwood flooring products originating from Canada. Marketplace reputation probably plays a role as well, observers say.

Abraham Linc, which took on the Wickham line late last year, also attests to the company’s focus on high standards. “Our entire team is excited to partner with Wickham and offer this line to our customers,” said Darren Abraham, president. “The high quality of the products, fashion-forward colors and design, combined with our commitment to inventory, delivery and sales support gives our dealers an exciting new line.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.18.31 PMAsk virtually any top distributor or retailer to corroborate many Canadian hardwood flooring manufacturers’ claims that their products are among the highest quality available on the market today, and you are not likely to find a lot of hesitation. Jaeckle Distributors, based in Madison, Wis., is a case in point.

“Mercier gives us a first-quality Canadian manufactured wood line that fits all possibilities in today’s ever-changing customer lifestyle,” said Steve Flanagan, product and marketing manager. “Mercier fits the consumer’s need anywhere from a quality entry-level product in their Pro Series to the most fashionable 7-inch pine long board or other popular species like hickory, maple, red and white oak, and their entire exotics series.”

Jaeckle’s experience with the Mercier brand continues to generate positive results. For 2016, Brad Myers, sales manager with Jaeckle Wholesale Distributors in St. Louis, won the manufacturer’s Best Salesperson of the Year award In addition, for the third straight year, Jaeckle Wholesale Distributors earned Wholesaler of the Year honors from Mercier.

Other top distributors are singing the praises of Canadian hardwood. For instance, No. 1-ranked Haines counts the Mirage Hardwood Flooring brand among its best sellers. “Mirage’s Flair collection features a next-generation finish called Duramatt, an extremely durable, low-gloss urethane finish that has the appearance of an oil finish without the maintenance required for oil,” said Shawn McCloskey, marketing manager. “Duramatt also contains anti-microbial agents and is 20 times more wear resistant than a conventional oil finish.”

Other Mirage distributors, including No. 4-ranked All Tile, applaud the virtues of not only the manufacturer’s high-quality products but also the company’s steadfast approach to manufacturing overall and attention to detail. So much so that All Tile recently decided to expand the territories in which it will distribute the Mirage brand. Specifically, All Tile’s single-source trading area for Mirage Flooring will be widened beyond Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, eastern Wisconsin, northern Indiana, Illinois and Michigan to include North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and all of Wisconsin.

“This is a great opportunity to provide a high level of quality service with outstanding customer service, inventory and technology to Mirage customers and help them selling the top-quality hardwood flooring brand on the market,” said Bob Weiss, president of All Tile, a Mirage wholesale partner since 2007. “We are very happy about extending our partnership with Mirage to a new territory.”

Focus on innovation
Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.18.20 PMMuch like their counterparts south of the border in America, most Canadian hardwood flooring manufacturers face stiff competition from other quality-minded suppliers operating in their market. To gain a competitive advantage, many employ proprietary techniques in their respective manufacturing processes. One common denominator, though, is the obligatory attention to detail.

That same emphasis on strict quality control measures is observed at Lauzon. As Priscilla Bergeron, brand manager, explains: “We have numerous points of control to make sure every step of the way our quality is maintained. This starts right from the forests where we choose which tree we’re going to cut all the way through to delivery to the retailer. We also have state-of-the-art equipment to make sure the quality is maintained consistently. We test and re-test to make sure everything we produce has the highest standards in the market. And we communicate that message to the marketplace.”

This focus on attention paved the way for innovations such as Sunshield, which is designed to mitigate the harmful effects of UV light. Lauzon also developed a titanium finish, which it says is one of the strongest coatings on the market. And then there’s Pure Genius technology, which aims to provide air-purifying capabilities for homeowners.

“We have won many awards for Pure Genious alone,” Bergeron said. “In 2015 we won the Best of IBS Award in Las Vegas and we also won the Bronze Innovation award from IIDEX Canada in the flooring category. We also won an innovation award at Domotex in Germany in 2015, and we ranked high among environmentally friendly products at the Greenbuild show as well.”

Even Canadian newcomers to the hardwood arena are looking to leverage the country’s reputation for quality products. For example, Uniboard Canada, which previously only produced laminate flooring, launched its first engineered hardwood flooring line (Kalista) at the NWFA convention in 2016. Since that time, the company has expanded the color and species offerings to give dealers and distributors more options.

Tapis Beaver, a Uniboard distributor based in Montreal, recently previewed the Kalista line and has high hopes for its potential in the marketplace. Already a longtime distributor of Uniboard’s laminate lines, Tapis Beaver is quite familiar with the manufacturer’s overall approach to product quality, high standards and service.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.18.24 PM“We work more on the laminate side than any other product,” said Stephane Leveille, president, Tapis Beaver. “We placed around 150 displays since last December, and we sold about $1 million or more worth of product. We don’t have any complaints about the product. The quality is very good.”

Citing their innovative approach to manufacturing—as well as the proximity to its operations and customer base—Leveille hinted that there may be an opportunity to take on the Kalista brand down the road. “We have looked into the product but we didn’t start to sell it yet. We are still in discussions with Uniboard management to see how we could work with our customers.”

Other major Canadian suppliers are also garnering attention for their innovative approach to hardwood manufacturing. Earlier this year Satin Flooring took home a Best of Surfaces Award for Wirebrushed, part of the Generations engineered wood collection. The innovative, environmentally friendly product is treated with Satin’s proprietary, non-allergenic, formaldehyde-free Eco-Last finish with UV protection and an anti-microbial finish, which prevents bacterial and fungus growth. It also features the company’s SolidFused technology, which is used in its engineered flooring production.

According to Dennis Mohn, director of U.S. sales for Satin Flooring, the company only uses lumber from well-managed North American forests—a big selling point for both existing and potential customers. “As a leading user of one of nature’s most precious and inspiring resources, we have a special responsibility not just to our environment but also to each other.”

Many Canadian distributor partners generally believe all these attributes—product quality, attention to detail, responsible use of natural resources—translate into products that provide higher margin opportunities with low claims rates. “Wickham has allowed us to grow our business by leaps and bounds,” Installers Warehouse Dupra said. “By stocking the Wickham line, we have easily doubled our bottom line.”

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Wickham adds distributor partner in Midwest

logoWickham2Wickham, Quebec, Canada—Wickham Hardwood Flooring announced a strategic partnership with distributor Summit Hardwood Flooring to represent and market the Wickham brand of products in the Upper Midwest.

“We are very pleased to be partnered with such a reputable, established organization,” said Jean-Pierre Nittolo, president of Wickham. “Their management and sales team will do a great job representing our products in the Upper Midwest.”

Chad Lemair, Summit president, noted: “Our entire team is excited to partner with Wickham and offer this exciting line to our customers. We plan on bringing the same level of support and service that has set us apart from our competitors to our existing and new customers in the Upper Midwest.”

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Wickham enters distributor deal with Abraham Linc

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-11-55-17-amQuebec, Canada—Wickham Hardwood Flooring has partnered with Abraham Linc to distribute and market the Wickham brand of products in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Established in 1988, Abraham Linc is a full line distributor of floor covering products serving West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Jersey, and portions of Ohio and Kentucky. Abraham Linc is headquartered in Bridgeport, W.Va., with additional warehouse facilities in Baltimore, Maryland and Waynesboro, Va.

“We are very pleased to be partnered with such a reputable, established organization,” said Jean-Pierre Nittolo, president for Wickham Hardwood Flooring. “Their management and sales team will do a great job representing our products in the Mid-Atlantic region.”

abrahamDarren F. Abraham, president and CEO of Abraham Linc, is also looking forward to the partnership. “We’re in the inventory business and perform logistical services for manufacturers in the Mid-Atlantic,” he said. “Our entire team is excited to partner with Wickham and offer this line to our customers. The high quality of the products, fashion forward colors and design, combined with our commitment to inventory, delivery and sales support gives our dealers an exciting new line.”

For more information contact Paul Rezuke, vice president of U.S. sales for Wickham Hardwood, at 508-954-2221, or Terry Warne, executive vice president of Abraham Linc at 800-359-5260.

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Compliance: Manufacturers reinforce their commitment to health, safety, environment

October 24/31, 2016: Volume 31, Number 1

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-26-51-pmWhen the CBS program “60 Minutes” ran its initial expose on Lumber Liquidators and problems associated with imported laminate flooring from China in 2015, ripples echoed through the marketplace. On one hand, consumers voiced their concerns about product safety, calling into question the credibility of a retail brand name they had come to know and trust. At the same time, specialty floor covering retailers doubled down their efforts to work more closely with suppliers and vendors to ensure the products they sourced and developed did not poise health risks to customers.

Manufacturers, for their part, responded immediately by providing chain-of-custody documentation as well as relevant environmental and operational certifications to demonstrate their compliance with regulatory statutes pertaining to the production of laminate as well as engineered hardwood flooring products. Many companies also saw the situation as an opportunity to promote the advantages of domestically made products.

While there was no similar “lightning rod” environmental issue dominating headlines in 2016, responsible suppliers are not resting on their laurels. Rather, many are taking the opportunity to reinforce the message that they are continuing to meet or surpass the guidelines and federal/local regulations governing the manufacturing of engineered floor coverings. Following are some examples of how suppliers are keeping it clean by meeting or exceeding environmental compliance standards.

American OEM
American OEM is proud to say its products are “American-made to American standards.” Why? Because it is the company’s belief that American manufacturers are held to a higher level of expectations—from consumers, the government, American competitors and trade associations. In fact, American OEM recently announced it is CARB 2 exempt due to the fact that it has consistently tested within compliance over time.

In addition, American OEM management sits on the boards of directors of the National Wood Flooring Association, the Hardwood Plywood and Veneer Association and the Hardwood Federation. American OEM actively engages with these associations to understand and follow best industry practices. It uses their labs for testing and manufactures according to their standards, ANSI/HPVA EF 2012. The company advocates alongside its peers for industry positions within the D.C. establishment. It was involved in the industry’s efforts to engage with CARB to develop a practical and enforceable formaldehyde standard. American OEM also supports industry engagement with the EPA to adopt a similar standard for the rest of the country, which it believes will be coming in the near future. The company believes a minimum level of compliance is a good thing for the industry because it instills trust that its products are safe as well as beautiful and durable.

Armstrong
Armstrong has been in business over 150 years and has always stood by its products, making and selling flooring with integrity. Each company is different and, like anything else, it would be wrong to assume all manufacturers, Chinese or domestic, behave the same way. The best way to demonstrate compliance is through testing. In the case of laminate, Armstrong sources product for both Armstrong and Bruce brands. They are made to company specifications, which require adherence to all environmental, health and safety regulations, including formaldehyde emissions, U.S. Federal government mandates and state regulations such as the California Air Resources Board (CARB 2). Armstrong’s suppliers have their products tested at independent certified labs and then regularly provide the test results.

Armstrong only accepts products that are certified to meet CARB requirements. In addition, on an annual basis the company randomly tests its products at the Hardwood Products Veneer Association (HPVA) lab in Virginia for Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements. As always, Armstrong is committed to providing the best quality, safest products by taking the steps necessary, including meeting and even exceeding regulatory requirements.

Armstrong has supply agreements in place requiring suppliers to follow CARB regulations. In addition to those agreements, the company is committed to taking actions to make sure it sources compliant products, has certificates and labels product properly. To support these initiatives, Armstrong has sourcing managers on the ground in China and product stewardship personnel in Lancaster, Pa., who ensure product compliance and regularly monitor that testing and certifications are up to date.

Johnson Hardwood
screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-26-45-pmJohnson Hardwood only sources from responsibly harvested forests in the U.S., China, Brazil and Canada. Government regulations in all of these countries have become much more stringent over the last decade, and Johnson Hardwood supports their efforts to protect their forests. China’s Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development regulates sustainable development through environmental policy and reform. There are Six National Key Forest Programs regulated by China’s State Council that include the promotion of economic development, natural resource management and environmental protection, taxation and regulation of timber markets as well as international trade and investment.

“Years ago, there were many doubts about products produced in China,” said Bill Schollmeyer, CEO of Johnson Hardwood. “As quality and design improved, those concerns were pretty minimal. There was an uptick in questions about formaldehyde when the Lumber Liquidators story broke [in 2015], but I feel the impact against the more legitimate, well-known companies like Johnson was pretty minimal. It’s probably a different story for smaller, unknown companies.”

Similarly tough standards are also enforced in other countries. For instance, to comply with global sustainability, Brazil adheres to forest certification as regulated by the Forest Stewardship Council. Meanwhile, Canada’s forest and lumber industry is regulated by the Canada Environmental Protection Agency. The United States, through the enactment of the Lacey Act, has helped other countries by preventing the importation of any hardwood product that is not legally harvested according to the rules of its country of origin. The Lacey Act requires end users of endangered wood to certify the legality of their supply chain all the way to the trees. If an importer knowingly imports tainted wood that has been illegally cut down for lumber, they may face enforcement by the Environmental Investigation Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lauzon
Long before it became fashionable, Lauzon made a commitment to building a business around environmental and social responsibility. Lauzon set out to rigorously adhere to forestry stewardship best practices and hold itself to the highest environmental standards. As stewards of nearly 2 million acres of forest, Lauzon carefully plans and executes all of its harvests and works tirelessly to do things right, from forest to floor.

Whether Canadian or imported, Lauzon chooses only wood sourced from sustainably managed forests. Lauzon’s portfolio even includes a selection of FSC-certified products such as its Canadian hard maple, which boasts one of the shortest carbon trails in the industry. Lauzon is also ISO 14001 certified for environmental management practices and Rainforest Alliance Certified, which guarantees the product purchased has been grown and harvested according to environmentally and socially responsible practices. In addition, the company’s state-of-the-art sawmill allows it to precisely calibrate production for high yield use of every block of wood.

To minimize the environmental footprint, Lauzon implemented a zero waste policy.

All of Lauzon’s hardwood floors are manufactured without solvents, VOCs or formaldehyde, are fully compliant with CARB 2 and meet the strictest standards for toxic emissions. Lauzon flooring has been tested according to ASTM E1333-02 standards for formaldehyde emission, and the results indicate an emission level so low it is barely within the detection limit of 0.003 ppm.

Mannington
All applicable Mannington flooring products comply with the California Air Resource Board’s (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) 93120 Title 17, California Code of Regulations, and meet or exceed CARB 2 standards. The vast majority of Mannington flooring is also FloorScore IAQ certified, which means the products are independently certified by Scientific Certification Systems to comply with the emissions criteria of the California Section 01350 program. Both CARB and FloorScore test for formaldehyde. Any product that has met these stringent standards is considered a low-VOC product that will contribute to good indoor air quality.

Looking at individual product categories, Mannington laminate flooring is 100% made in the U.S. at its manufacturing facilities in North Carolina. The products are certified to a standard set by the North American Laminate Flooring Association (NALFA) called the NALFA LF-01 standard. In the hardwood category, more than 80% of Mannington’s engineered hardwood products are made in the U.S. at its manufacturing facilities in Alabama and North Carolina. All domestically produced Mannington hardwood products are FloorScore IAQ certified while all imported hardwood flooring products have been tested and comply with CARB 2. In resilient, Mannington sheet, Adura and porcelain do not contain formaldehyde. Furthermore, all three product categories have been certified to the FloorScore IAQ standard.

Mannington has a long-standing commitment to quality and safety. All of its products have passed third-party environmental testing and meet or exceed the highest standards in the industry.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-27-13-pmMercier
Mercier Generations products are Greenguard Gold Certified—the highest environmental certification on the market—and are made using 100% pure soybean oil. Mercier Generations flooring passes stringent environmental tests at every step in the finishing, dying and varnishing process in order to meet that standard. The Greenguard Gold Certification requirements comply with California’s Department of Public Health Services Standard Practice for Specification Section 01350 (California Section 01350) for testing chemical emissions from building products used in schools and other environments. Formerly known as Greenguard Children & Schools Certification, the standard offers a strict certification criteria, considers safety factors to account for sensitive individuals and ensures a product is acceptable for use in environments such as schools and health care facilities.

Beyond that, every adhesive used in Mercier’s engineered products are free of urea-formaldehyde and hardwood plywood used in Mercier’s engineered products are CARB 2 compliant. In addition, laboratory tests reveal that Mercier Generations finish does not have any formaldehyde emissions and performs beyond the LEED norm and the environmental certification choice program regarding VOCs.

Mirage
Since 1983, Boa-Franc, the makers of Mirage hardwood floors, has advocated a management policy based on five fundamental values: passion, innovation, integrity, commitment and respect. At Mirage, everything is done with one eye on sustainable development because the company firmly believes there is no better way to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Its corporate values and strategies were geared toward sustainable development from the very beginning.

Some examples of this stewardship in sustainability measures include the procurement from vendors who practice responsible forestry methods according to the Lacey Act. In complying with this law, Mirage makes international environmental protection a priority as part of its approach to sustainable development. The Mirage brand guarantees customers peace of mind by providing them with hardwood floors made from natural resources that are soundly managed and legally harvested.

Furthermore, all Mirage products are manufactured in North American facilities, which enables complete control in all facets of production, including meeting implemented ISO-9001 standards. Mirage products are also FSC certified, meaning the raw materials used in the manufacturing process have been inspected and legally harvested in non-genetically modified forests where traditional and civil rights are respected.

Mohawk
screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-30-53-pm
Mohawk’s commitment remains to responsibly manufacture and provide the highest quality engineered hardwood and laminate floors that meet strict U.S. guidelines. Products across the Mohawk Hard Surface, Quick-Step, Columbia, Century and Pergo portfolios have earned the following health and sustainability certifications: CARB Phase 2, NALFA and FloorScore. In addition, all of Mohawk’s hardwood flooring is Lacey Act compliant, ensuring the timber used is responsibly harvested from sustainable forests, and Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers (AHMI) has verified data from the U.S. Forest Service that Appalachian Hardwood Territory timber—which Mohawk uses in select hardwood flooring lines—is sustainably certified.

At Mohawk, it is a priority to make certain the products retailers receive surpass the most rigorous testing. Mohawk, Quick-Step’s Q-Wood, Pergo, Columbia and Century domestically produce engineered hardwoods utilizing technologies such as PureBond, an innovation that replaces formaldehyde adhesives traditionally used in the manufacture of engineered wood products and eliminates formaldehyde emissions associated with UF adhesives. Also, Quick-Step, Pergo, Columbia and Mohawk’s patented glueless Uniclic Technology provides fast, easy installation of laminate planks without adversely impacting indoor air quality.

Shaw
Shaw Floors has a long-standing commitment to sustainability, and it carefully considers the impact of its products throughout their lifecycle on the environment and on society. Shaw examines the ingredient materials, the impact of its supply chain, the use of natural resources, and the ability to recover and recycle its products. The company manufactures many of its own products and sources from strategic partners in the U.S. and internationally to offer a broad portfolio of products to meet diverse customer preferences. In doing so, the company sets high standards for itself and its suppliers. Shaw takes numerous steps to verify that its products—regardless of where they are manufactured or who makes them—meet customers’ high expectations. These steps include: performing manufacturing site inspections to ensure suppliers meet the same high-quality standards Shaw observes; setting raw material specifications that restrict the use of certain chemical substances of concern; and ensuring all products meet the indoor air emissions requirements of California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Standard Method V1.1 (2010).

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-4-31-00-pmShaw laminate and engineered hardwood products are third party tested and meet or exceed CARB 2 requirements. These include CARB 2 and GREENGUARD Certification, which gives assurance that products designed for use in indoor spaces meet strict chemical emissions limits, including formaldehyde. All of Shaw’s hardwood and laminate products—regardless of where they are manufactured—are independently verified by Underwriter’s Laboratories as part of its voluntary participation in the GREENGUARD program. In addition, Shaw also has its products assessed for material health and other sustainability attributes under the voluntary Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program. Shaw’s laminate products are in the process of undergoing C2C certification assessment. Lastly, Shaw maintains compliance with Lacey Act, which stipulates that wood must be legally sourced, harvested and delivered.

Wickham
Wickham Hardwood Flooring puts a strong emphasis on the issue of compliance.

Located just outside of Drummondville in Wickham, Quebec, the company has always been committed to looking out for the environment and its customers’ well being and peace of mind since its inception in 1989. That peace of mind comes from working with some of North America’s most reputable lumber suppliers over the past 25 years—companies that stand behind their products and have gained a level of trust that is so important in today’s marketplace. Many of Wickham’s lumber suppliers are FSC certified and practice the highest standards of sustainable forestry.

Wickham flooring is produced entirely in North America, where forest management and timber production are subject to the strictest environmental laws and regulations in the world.

Customers can rest assured knowing not only where Wickham obtained its flooring, but that the company was able to keep track of each and every load. In addition, Wickham Hardwood Flooring has continued to stay on the forefront of the newest and safest finishes the industry has to offer. The company has chosen two prominent companies to partner with on its oil finishes—Akzo Nobel and Woca. Akzo and Woca are widely known as innovators and manufacturers of the best finishes. The Woca UV oil finish, for example, features plant-based oils and zero VOCs, while the Akzo Nobel UV finish Wickham uses on all its smooth floors boast the lowest VOCs.

 

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Wood: Wickham partners reap the rewards

Specialty hardwood flooring supplier helps channel partners fill a niche

July 4/11, 2016; Volume 30, Number 27

By Reginald Tucker

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 4.00.13 PMCraig Dupra, president of Installers Warehouse, a Rochester, N.Y.-based wholesale flooring distributor, likes the flexibility and deep range of options the Wickham Hardwood Flooring brand offers his customers. “I don’t know how they manage the logistics of it, but they’re very good at making a particular product for a particular customer and still get it to my customer in 10-15 business days from the time the order is placed.”

For other Wickham dealers like Mike Winter, president and owner of Builder Surplus, Warwick, R.I., the main attraction is the Canadian manufacturer’s ability to crank out a high volume of specialized product without compromising on quality or caving in to the commodity game. “When you’re working with a lot of vendors it can get a little convoluted because you’re dealing with companies who are doing a lot of the same things—it makes it harder to sell the product,” he said. “As retailers we like to have a product we can build on—a product that others don’t have.”

Scenarios such as these are playing out across Wickham Hardwood Flooring’s network of dealers and distributors across North America. From specialty hardwood flooring distributors looking for quality wood flooring products that provide a good “turn and earn” to specialty retailers and installation houses serving the residential replacement and builder communities, Wickham’s products are helping to fill specific niches within the marketplace while still appealing to mainstream consumers in the market for trendy hardwood flooring products.

“Wickham has a unique business model in that they produce an enormous amount of product but they don’t apply a color or a finish until the product has been ordered by the retailer or distributor,” Dupra explained. “This gives them an enormous amount of flexibility in terms of how the particular floor can be made regarding width, species, grade, color and sheen. Having Wickham as a vendor is like having 10 lines at the same time.”

This capability is particularly important for dealers who service a broad customer base. For example, at Builder Surplus, whose clientele runs a wide gamut, a diverse range of options is key. “Most of the Wickham products we sell are going into residential replacement applications as well as new homes,” Winter noted. “The product is superb relative to what you might find at Home Depot and Lowe’s. It’s just a wonderful product. And from a service standpoint, Wickham’s salespeople are excellent.”

The fact that they can produce a high volume in a short period of time is also a plus for Builder Surplus, a Wickham Hardwood Flooring partner for the past five years. Winter purchases a full truckload of product roughly every six weeks—and that’s just during the offseason. “We’ve been a good partner for them and they have been a good partner for us,” he said.

 

Profit opportunities

Beyond providing a deep selection along with a relatively quick turnaround, Wickham’s dealer and distributor partners point to another important benefit of stocking the line: trade-up opportunities. Due to the manufacturer’s cost structure and overall business model, it is in an enviable position to give its partners great deals on pricing.

At the end of the day, this approach allows Wickham’s distributors to be “more aggressive on the street while accessing more customers with a greater variety of products. “Wickham has allowed us to grow our business by leaps and bounds,” Dupra said. “By stocking the Wickham line, we have easily doubled our bottom line.”

Greg Arnold, national sales manager for Wickham Hardwood Floorinbg, attests to the value of good partnerships. Over the past 10 months he said the company has added distributors and strengthened relations with retailers. “We recognize the fact that relationships are earned. Wickham would not be succesful without these relationships, and we take great pride in growing these relationships daily.”